It has emerged that the new NDDC corporate head office which President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned about five months ago in Port Harcourt was not and is still not completed, TNN can authoritatively reveal.
Apparently, the president was deceived into commissioning the building. Of course, the president did a virtual commissioning of the building, which was greeted with so much fanfare.
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio may not have told the president that the building he presented to him for commissioning was not completed. Surprisingly, about five months after the commissioning, the building is still not completed.
The nakedness of the commission became open when the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike told them to quit the Aba Road office and relocate to their permanent office at the Eastern Bye-pass axis of Port Harcourt.
Sources at the NDDC told TNN that even furniture for the new office were not supplied. This may have been the reason why staff had to move to the new office with their old furniture from the old office.
It was observed that a lot of staff of the commission are without offices. Some of them roam in the complex without office or seats. One of the staff confided in our correspondent that the annex building is also not completed.
On the fourth floor, TNN noticed that tiles, woods and other materials used for the construction work still littered the place. The tiles were yet to be fixed. From the schedule of office allocation, a copy of which TNN obtained, the fourth floor was allocated to board members.
A staff said “that is where board members would normally have their meetings.” But as at the time of filing this report, the fourth floor was not close to being finished. It was apparent that the contractors had abandoned that floor.
Ironically, when TNN called the head of corporate affairs, Dr. Ibitoye Abosede, he claimed that everything in the building was in place and insisted that our correspondent was not saying the truth when he was told that the fourth floor and the annex building were not completed.
That was on Thursday. He even told the TNN reporter to come to his office so that he could show him round the entire building. When TNN told him he would visit the same day, he changed his mind and claimed that he was going for a meeting and would not be available to take him round.
The TNN reporter then told him that he could come the following day, but he said he would travel but that on Monday, the reporter could visit the office. But that Monday, Abosede refused to take all the calls from the reporter.
After ignoring the calls, whatsapp messages were sent to him but even after reading them, he never responded. The reporter gave him some time and later sent a message to inform him that the TNN team was on their way to the NDDC office.
This was the message: “We are on our way to the NDDC sir. We need to come and see all the offices. Our position is that work on the building was and is still not completed, about six months after it was inaugurated by the president of Nigeria.
“Your position is that work in the new office has since been completed. I remember telling you that we have pictures of some of the floors that have not been tiled and that many staff are now without offices to operate from. In fact, the place is like a refugee camp, as staff now squat here and there. Some of them had to provide seats for themselves. Some of them were forced to carry furniture from the old office at Aba to the new office, as furniture were not provided in the new office.
“We were delighted when you said we could come to the new NDDC office today to see things for ourselves. But you have ignored all the calls and messages sent to you since morning.”
Abosede read this message but refused to respond. TNN learnt that in the annex building, there is no ceiling and there is also no light. “The building is supposed to accommodate the L and D, a unit in the human resources department that handles our training and in that particular building right now, there is no light, most of the ceilings are not there and again we had to move every of our old furniture from Aba road to that place.”
TNN asked another staff: So, there were no brand new furniture?
His response: “Not a single one, In fact some people’s tables got broken so they are even now taking the pains to use their own money to buy their personal table just because they want to make themselves comfortable. That is how sad it is. The place, there was no partition. So, it’s like a banking hall right now, banking hall arrangement, that is the way it is.
All the floors?
“In fact in all the floors people are just struggling to just find a way to put their tables and then see how they can just settle down to work. But if you visit that place now, from the first floor, to second, third it’s more like a refugee camp. The critical area for instance, in their area like the cooperate affairs. It’s like an IDP camp. Bags and files and all of that are everywhere, it’s like an IDP camp, but the open halls are just there, open halls, people are just putting tables, it’s like just open banking hall, that’s the arrangement it is for now, except for some of the units that have decided to take the pains to say okay, can we just tax ourselves and just see what we can do, you know, to make ourselves comfortable.
“That is how bad it is and the partitioning of the offices and furnishing, I understand, is part of the contract for the building of that place. So, if it was commissioned four, five, six months ago and that hasn’t been done and then we were just suddenly forced to move over, I wonder at what point the furnishing of the office will be done.
“And then the other part of it is, we’ve just moved into that facility, in less than two weeks the lift has broken down, even two days ago, in fact almost on a daily basis, people get trapped. So both staff and visitors are scared now of even using the lift because we don’t know, I mean we can’t guarantee that you are inside and then you don’t get stuck, and that whole facility only one lift is working. There are two lifts but one keeps breaking down every time, and the other one is locked.
One is not even just done at all, they are supposed to be four lifts, only two is operational, the other two don’t seem like they’ve even worked on. So, we are using only two, and then one keeps breaking down and then the other one you know most times because maybe they are not quit certain of its efficient use. So they probably decided, most times to lock it, so that people don’t use it. That’s how things are, it’s a sad picture.
Another staff who also spoke with TNN said from outside, the building looked very building but that the inside was empty. “It was just deceptive as far as we are concerned; to have commissioned that place with funfare, like a sepulchre, you know. From outside it’s beautiful but from inside it’s empty.”
This is coming just as the South South Youths Initiative has again written to the president, urging him to urgently inaugurate a new board for the commission. The open letter, a copy of which was sent to TNN, was signed by the national president, Imeabe Saviour Oscar and secretary-general, Nyakno Otu.
In it, they said “we are deeply concerned over some still notable lapses in the activities of your administration in the region. We are more concerned about the delay in your administration to constitute a Substantive Board of NDDC. There have been growing concerns over the insistence of your government to hold on to the imposition of a Sole Administrator on the only interventionist agency of the Niger Delta people.
“SOUTH SOUTH YOUTHS INITIATIVE and its affiliate bodies for two weeks protested for the failure of your administration to constitute a board for the NDDC. During the periods we demonstrated to the world that we are peaceful, but resolute in getting what is our constitutional right. We were also pained that the Sole Administrator of NDDC, Mr. Akwa Effiong, shut us out and refused to address the youths of the region, who were expressing their concerns. He neglected us, because he knows that his stay is not constitutional, and so no constitutional harm can befall him.
“Sequel to the protest we had officially written the presidency through the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, expressing our regrets over the continuous delay and failure of the Federal Government in constituting substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
“It would also be recalled that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, had promised that he would drive the process of inaugurating a Substantive Board of the NDDC to an end before the end June 30th, 2021. This promise was made on the 3rd of June, when the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs visited Gbaramatu Kingdom, Delta State.
“But it beats our imagination that three months after the promise has not seen the light of the day. This has left the SOUTH SOUTH YOUTHS INITIATIVE disturbed that a respected minister of the federal republic is reneging on his promises, irrespective of the calls and yearnings of our people, leaving us in doubts.
“The desire of the youths Niger Delta is to see the immediate constitution of a Substantive Board for the Commission, NDDC. This is to strengthen the trust we have built in your administration. Without a board we cannot be genuinely employed. Without a board will cannot also be empowered. Our youths are stranded and abandoned because of this very action.”